Queen Charlotte Sound / Tōtaranui and surrounding areas has been the location of academic research for over a hundred years. During this time the research has focused on various research fields to try and document and understand the area, such as the interaction of physical, chemical, and biological processes, ecology, botany, zoology, oceanography, soil science, geology, mineralogy, physical and human geography and social sciences for understanding cultural, human relationships, perceptions and policies.
More recently specialist research has occurred to support the expansion of aquaculture, alternative energy systems, pollution control and mitigation, natural resource management, and the effects of global climate change.
The Tōtara’s for Tōtaranui Project is advocating for a coordinated approach to research and monitoring to provide an integrated, quantitative, and interdisciplinary approach to the study of environmental systems in Queen Charlotte Sound / Tōtaranui.
We define research as specific human activities designed to create new fundamental and applied knowledge and understanding of how Queen Charlotte Sound / Tōtaranui functions, encompassing the biophysical features and functions, economic, social, and/or cultural realms.
Monitoring is defined as the repeated measurement of variables that can be used to quantify trajectories of temporal and spatial changes in the context of the area. Monitoring in itself is not research, but the data generated by monitoring can be used to assess the effectiveness of different management regimes, and test different hypotheses of how we think the systems work. ‘Monitoring for monitoring’s’ sake is discouraged, and a poor use of resources.
Monitoring should be undertaken with a clear understanding of how it will help inform management over time. We need to be able to show, for example, water clarity is improving in an estuary following change to land management practices in a catchment.
A coordinated approach to monitoring and reporting, and what we learn from this, is an important element in an “adaptive management” approach, whereby we can modify behaviour as we learn what works and what does not.